In ten years, finding and sharing information through the Internet will be so ingrained in our lives that we'll take it for granted, according to the experts surveyed by the Pew Research Center. The "Digital Life in 2015" survey asked over 1,000 engineers, informations specialists, CEOs and social researchers, (including this overwhelmingly male list of "key respondents"):
Good and/or bad, what do you expect to be the most significant overall impacts of our uses of the Internet on humanity between now and 2025?
Respondents worried that privacy would become a luxury good, and people and organizations might not adapt fast enough, but five positive themes continued to appear in responses: The Internet will become as commonplace as electricity, the Internet will make the world more connected and less ignorant, the "Internet of Things" (where all devices are connected) will be big; the Internet will facilitate more political grassroots movements like the Arab Spring; and wearable devices like Google Glass will gain in popularity.
Information sharing will become "invisible, flowing like electricity"
A lot of talk about the future of the internet sounds almost hippie-spiritual or faux-philosophical. For example: "We won’t think about ‘going online’ or ‘looking on the Internet’ for something — we’ll just be online, and just look," said Joe Touch, director of the USC/ISI Postel Center. But the idea is that over time, as technologies are improved and become cheaper, they're more accessible. Electricity is now widely available to some degree in both developed and developing countries. The hope is that, in 10 years, so will internet.
The spread of the internet will foster "less ignorance"
Tim Bray of the Internet Engineering Task Force argued that access to Wikipedia and similar archives would make for a better informed world. "I expect the miasma of myth and ignorance and conspiracy theory to recede to dark corners of the discourse of civilization, where nice people don’t go," he said. Very optimistic.
The Internet of Things will be a big deal
If the Internet of Things — where objects are able to communicate facts about themselves — sounds like a meaningless buzz phrase, the important thing to know is that it might free us from technology, and all its stupid buzz phrases. As Katie Derthick an engineering Ph.D. candidate argued, "The most powerful effect embedded/wearable devices and the Internet of Things will have is to free us from technology, while allowing us to continue to benefit from it to the same and an even greater degree."
The Internet will facilitate political grassroots movements
As more of the world goes online, it will lead to online grassroots movements challenging governments (as seen with the Arab Spring, and in Turkey and Brazil) as well as a global awareness of the disparities in education and healthcare. It will also lead to greater Westernization and Facebook and their like spread across the globe.
Augmented reality and wearable devices will be part of daily life
This is the part that sounds like a sci-fi movie. "Augmented reality tools such as AR mobile browsers (like Layar) or wearables (like Google Glass) will become affordable and widespread, and we will grow accustomed to seeing the world through multiple data layers," said Daren C. Brabham an assistant professor at the University of Southern California. As odd as the idea of Google Glass being normal and widespread is, we should all remember that headphones were mocked and criticized when they came out, too. So be prepared to turn into a "Glasshole" in the next decade.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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